Well, this is it. Just about, anyway. In about 24 hours, the letters of intent will begin rolling in and the 2016 Syracuse football recruiting class will be made official. Dino Babers is set to address the media with regard to his first class at the University tomorrow afternoon, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be refreshing Twitter all day, looking for any potential surprises and making sure the NLI’s we’re expecting all make it to ‘Cuse.
We’re just about done with this year’s class, as well. As Syracuse.com’s Nate Mink pointed out, technically our class is capped, in terms of how many commitments we can take without losing any more current players. There are 21 players pledged to the Orange, and 64 scholarship players returning (including, as Mink points out, a few walk-ons whose scholarships could be taken back to make room for additional recruits).
Now, obviously none of us really expects this class to finish with 21 players. We’re still waiting on final word from Jaquwan Nelson, the talented defensive end from Florida who is deciding between sticking with the Orange – where he pledged after an official visit last week – and Georgia, where he recently took an official visit that he seemed to love.
Nelson has stayed silent over the past couple of days since returning from Athens, but if you’re like me and you read far too much into Twitter activity, he did randomly retweet Syracuse pledge Tim Walton’s commitment tweet from a week ago. Considering how little activity there’s been on Nelson’s Twitter feed, the timing of that retweet does seem intriguing, to say the least.
Of course, if Nelson flips to Georgia, there’s a chance that Syracuse could still go after another defensive end target to either land on signing day, or after the fact. The junior college ranks could be turned to after last week’s official visitor Josh White left upstate New York without an offer and chose to commit to Georgia Tech as a preferred walk-on.
Stewart Reese chose Mississippi State yesterday afternoon, as expected, so there’ll be no crowning jewel added to the class on Wednesday, though a few terrific pieces could still be added. It seems highly unlikely now but there’s always a chance that Adrian Killins decides to flip to Syracuse. Don’t count on that one happening, though.
Another interesting twist involves DeVaughn Cooper, the speedy wide receive from Narbonne High in California, a teammate of Syracuse commit Sean Riley’s and a current Arizona pledge. The Orange were thought to be out of the running for Cooper as of last week, but suddenly it appears Syracuse is still in the mix. Cooper plans to decide between Arizona, Arizona State, and Syracuse on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. PST, though choosing the Orange would still be an upset.
For now, most of the drama surrounding these final hours until the paperwork starts rolling in revolves around Nelson, and whether his ultimate decision sets off a late chain of dominoes that leads to another defensive end, or causes the Syracuse staff to consider moving Kenneth Ruff – the middle linebacker who weighed in at 255 when he arrived on the Hill, I’m told – to defensive end, at least to give the Orange an emergency option at the thin position.
We could know what’s happening with Nelson as soon as today, but for the other farfetched surprises from Killins and Cooper, we’ll have to wait a day. And then Thursday…this whole thing starts all over again, which makes me wonder how many coaches feel like Roland Deschain when he finally reaches the top of the Dark Tower (Stephen King readers will know what I’m talking about).
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”